Boris Becker is almost always on the move. When Germany’s tennis legend watches the matches of his new protégé Holger Rune at the ATP Finals, he is more active than many players on the court
Almost after every rally, Becker jumps up, applauds, gesticulates and gives instructions. Becker has now been back on the tennis tour for around three weeks as the so-called super coach of the young Danish star – and is fully in his element.
“See him as a diamond in the rough “
“I see him as a rough diamond that needs to be polished,” said Becker on the Eurosport podcast “Das Gelbe vom Ball” about Rune, who is currently regarded as one of the most exciting pros on the tour. Rune, the Italian Jannik Sinner, who has been playing great in Turin so far, and Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz from Spain – these are the three players to whom the future of men’s tennis could belong.
Despite only being 20 years old, Rune has practically everything he needs to become a great player and win Grand Slam tournaments. It’s just that the Dane often can’t control his emotions on the court. At the French Open in Paris last year, he once sent his mother Aneke out of the stands. Time and again, he also gets into fights with his opponents or spectators
Enjoys emotional outbursts
Not a problem for Becker. Quite the opposite. “I like these emotional outbursts on the court,” said the three-time Wimbledon winner, who used to be impulsive on the court himself. “Novak Djokovic was the same, he wasn’t quite himself from time to time either,” said Becker, who coached the world number one from Serbia very successfully for three years and still maintains a very good relationship with the record Grand Slam tournament winner. “It’s great that Boris is back,” said Djokovic, who defeated Rune in three sets in his opening match at the ATP Finals.
For Becker, his return as a tennis coach is also a return to a normal life. Around a year ago, he was released from a British prison, where he was serving time for bankruptcy offenses, to great fanfare. Since then, the 55-year-old has been back as a TV pundit and has been a constant presence on the tennis tour. However, he was not present at Wimbledon and New York due to entry problems.
Inquiry in October
In October, Rune, who had been struggling since Wimbledon, asked whether Becker could imagine working as a coach. After a week of training together in Monte-Carlo, the duo agreed to work together until the end of the year for the time being. “At the end of the day, I love tennis. And when one of the best 20-year-olds in the world asks me if I’m interested, anyone who says no has nothing to do with the sport,” said Becker, explaining his commitment to the exciting project.
And the collaboration already seems to be paying off. Since Wimbledon, Rune had only won one match, the ease and self-confidence that characterized him had completely disappeared. Since Becker has been at his side, the Dane has reached the semi-finals in Basel and had Djokovic on the brink of defeat in a thrilling three-set match in the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000 event in Paris.
“It’s great to have Boris in my box,” said Rune in Turin, where he will face Sinner this Thursday for a place in the semi-finals. “He’s often been in these situations on the court himself and can give me lots of valuable tips,” said Rune about Becker, who sometimes brings the balls into play himself during training sessions.
And what does the Dane think of the fact that Becker always bounces? “Maybe it’s the blood flow in his legs,” said Rune, before adding seriously. “I think when he wants to coach, he stands up. That way he can get his way of coaching me across better. “
After the ATP Finals in Turin, Rune and Becker want to sit down and see if they can continue working together next year. At the moment, there is a lot to suggest that Becker will continue to polish the “rough diamond” Rune. “When you win, you usually stay together,” said Becker.